Last week I was privileged to attend a fascinating talk by Professor Allan Basbaum, Professor of Anatomy at the University of California, San Francisco and world renowned researcher in chronic pain.
Professor Basbaum explained that his multi-disciplinary laboratory has turned its attention to the possibility of overcoming the neurological consequences of peripheral nerve damage by transplanting into the spinal cord, Cortical GABAergic Precursor Cells, which are derived from Stem Cells.
This is cutting edge, practical science which, in Professor Basbaum’s words “is revealing an entirely new perspective on the circuits that process the injury messages that generate acute and persistent pain and on novel approaches to therapy.”
He described neuropathic pain as “a disease” of the central nervous system. Nerve damage causes pain and to alleviate it, the nerve damage must be treated. Traditional drug therapies, he said, often provide only a temporary benefit and usually go hand-in-hand with side effects, which in themselves impact tremendously on quality of life. In repairing nerve damage through cell treatments, his approach is entirely different. He said they had found that neuropathic pain decreased without side effects in mice receiving Stem Cell transplants.
Among those conditions which may in due course benefit from Stem Cell transplants are Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Trigeminal Neuralgia and Multiple Sclerosis.
However, while these results are encouraging, he said it is still too early to say whether Stem Cell transplants will prove successful in human clinical trials and ultimately become a routine procedure in the treatment of chronic pain.
We shall keep you updated.
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